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House prices: Halifax says they’ve grown £28k in a year

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Average house prices in the UK have hit another record high, despite an interest rate rise and Britons facing a mounting cost of living crisis.

Monthly house prices grew 1.4 per cent in March – the biggest increase in six months – pushing the average UK house price up to a record high of £282,753.

It means house prices have grown a staggering £43,577 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Halifax House Price index.  

Regionally, the South West of England saw the biggest annual rise – of 14.6 per cent compared to March 2021. It means the region, which saw a boom in property sales during the pandemic as people flooded out of cities during lockdown, has overtaken Wales as the UK’s strongest performer in terms of annual price house inflation.

London, meanwhile, continued its recent upward trend, with prices now up by 5.9 per cent year-on-year, with an average price of £534,977.

Prices in the capital had risen at a slower rate since the first Covid lockdown as people looked to invest in countryside properties due to more flexible working and work from home.

March’s property price rise comes despite the Bank of England raising interest rates from 0.5 per cent to 0.75 per cent last month.

The Bank raised interest rates for the first time in December, from 0.1 per cent to 0.25 per cent and increased them further, to 0.5 per cent in February. 

However, despite average property prices rising in March, experts believe the rate of growth will slow this year, as the cost of living crisis bites.

Average Britons face an extra £800-a-year in living costs from this month, with a rise in gas bills and National Insurance, along with an increase in council tax and inflation at more than 6 per cent. 

Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said: ‘The story behind such strong house price inflation remains unchanged: limited supply and strong demand, despite the prospect of increasing pressure on households’ finances. 

‘Although there is some recent evidence of more homes coming onto the market, the fundamental issue remains that too many buyers are chasing too few properties.  

Average house prices in the UK have hit another record high, despite an interest rate rise and Britons facing a mounting cost of living crisis

Average house prices in the UK have hit another record high, despite an interest rate rise and Britons facing a mounting cost of living crisis

Regionally, the South West of England saw the biggest annual rise - of 14.6 per cent compared to March 2021. It means the region, which saw a boom in property sales during the pandemic as people flooded out of cities during lockdown, has overtaken Wales as the UK’s strongest performer in terms of annual price house inflation. London, meanwhile, continued its recent upward trend, with prices now up by 5.9 per cent year-on-year, with an average price of £534,977

Regionally, the South West of England saw the biggest annual rise – of 14.6 per cent compared to March 2021. It means the region, which saw a boom in property sales during the pandemic as people flooded out of cities during lockdown, has overtaken Wales as the UK’s strongest performer in terms of annual price house inflation. London, meanwhile, continued its recent upward trend, with prices now up by 5.9 per cent year-on-year, with an average price of £534,977

Regionally, the South West of England saw the biggest annual rise - of 14.6 per cent compared to March 2021. It means the region, which saw a boom in property sales during the pandemic as people flooded out of cities during lockdown, has overtaken Wales as the UK’s strongest performer in terms of annual price house inflation. Pictured: Library image of for sale signs

Regionally, the South West of England saw the biggest annual rise – of 14.6 per cent compared to March 2021. It means the region, which saw a boom in property sales during the pandemic as people flooded out of cities during lockdown, has overtaken Wales as the UK’s strongest performer in terms of annual price house inflation. Pictured: Library image of for sale signs

Despite average property prices rising in March, experts believe the rate of growth will slow this year, as the cost of living crisis bites. Average Britons face an extra £800-a-year in living costs from this month, with a rise in gas bills and National Insurance, along with an increase in council tax and inflation at more than 6 per cent.

Despite average property prices rising in March, experts believe the rate of growth will slow this year, as the cost of living crisis bites. Average Britons face an extra £800-a-year in living costs from this month, with a rise in gas bills and National Insurance, along with an increase in council tax and inflation at more than 6 per cent. 

‘The effect on house prices makes it increasingly difficult for first-time buyers looking to make their first step onto the ladder, but also challenges homemovers who face ever bigger leaps to move up the rungs to a larger property.

‘However, in the long-term we know the performance of the housing market remains inextricably linked to the health of the wider economy. 

‘There is no doubt that households face a significant squeeze on real earnings. Buyers are therefore dealing with the prospect of higher interest rates and a higher cost of living.

‘With affordability metrics already extremely stretched, these factors should lead to a slowdown in house price inflation over the next year.’

It comes as the Consumer price inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2 per cent in February and the Government’s budget watchdog two weeks ago forecast it would go close to 9 per cent in late 2022, contributing to the biggest fall in living standards since at least the 1950s. 

Many buyers are still demanding more indoor and outdoor space, and the annual jump in flat prices is lower than for detached homes. 

Prices for flats have increased by 10.6 per cent, or £15,404, over the last two years, while the average price of a detached property has leapt by 21.3 per cent, or £77,717, over the same period, Halifax said.

Regional shifts

South West has overtaken Wales as the UK’s strongest performer in terms of annual price house inflation, now up to 14.6 per cent, its highest rate of annual increase since September 2004. 

The average house price for properties in the South West is now £298,162, representing a record for the region.

While this is the first time since January 2021 that Wales has not recorded the UK’s highest annual growth, house price inflation remains strong, at 14.1 per cent.

The average house price is £211,942 which is yet another all-time high for the country.

Monthly house prices grew 1.4 per cent in March - the biggest increase in six months - pushing the average UK house price up to a record high of £282,753

Monthly house prices grew 1.4 per cent in March – the biggest increase in six months – pushing the average UK house price up to a record high of £282,753

Variations: Property prices in the South West have surged by 14.6% in the past year

Variations: Property prices in the South West have surged by 14.6% in the past year

Property prices in Northern Ireland also continue to be on the rise, with annual growth now at 13 per cent, and an average price of £177,265.

Though house prices also edged up once more in Scotland – reaching a new record of £194,621 – the rate of annual growth continues to slow somewhat, falling to 8.2 per cent from 9.3 per cent last month.

Elsewhere, the South East also recorded a big jump, with house price growth at 11.6 per cent and an average price of £385,790. 

Prices in the region have now risen by £40,177 over the last year, the first time any English region outside of London has ever posted a £40,000-plus rise over just 12 months.

London continued its recent upward trend, with prices now up by 5.9 per cent year-on-year, with an average price of £534,977.

Supply and demand is pushing up prices

There is growing debate among experts about how the coming year will pan out for the property market. 

Some think low listings and strong buyer demand will continue to push up prices, while others think the pace of property price growth could slow amid the soaring cost of living. 

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: ‘These numbers are very strong but mostly reflect activity of the past few months.

‘Since then we’ve noticed, on the ground, how rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs in particular, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, have taken their toll.

‘There is still plenty of market resilience and demand for correctly-priced houses and flats but increasingly stretched affordability is inevitably putting a break on price growth and transaction numbers.’

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘There has been wide speculation that higher fixed costs such as the hike in national insurance contributions and increase in general cost of living will impact affordability calculations when it comes to getting a mortgage. 

‘If costs are going up, it stands to reason that this will impact borrowers as there is less money available to service the mortgage. 

‘But for now, borrowers are taking advantage of low mortgage rates with some lenders, such as Halifax and Scottish Widows, increasing loan-to-income multiples from 4.49 to 4.75 per cent for higher earners.’ 

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said: ‘Yet again the gap between supply and demand is pushing up prices. 

‘With the cost of living also rising, this is creating more issues in property chains with buyers having to find more money to purchase a property. 

‘Those who are trying to move up the ladder are finding it harder still as the trading gap grows wider; while their home has gone up in value, so has the one they are trying to buy so it will cost considerably more.

‘First-time buyers are being squeezed left, right and centre, needing more money for a bigger deposit while the cost of living is also going up exponentially. It becomes a vicious circle which should inevitably stem the flow of property transactions.

‘Something needs to be done to stimulate the market so that more people are able to buy, with the lack of housing being built in the first place an issue in urgent need of addressing.’ 

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Mirrored furniture trend can create the illusion of space in your home

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Mirrored furniture provokes strong emotions. Some see it as the epitome of bad taste, flashy and bling. Others know that mirrors have magic powers.

A mirrored table or cabinet makes a room or a hallway appear more swish and spacious. It’s a trick that bars and restaurants employ to ensure their establishments appear roomier and more inviting — and they can add lustre to your home, too.

Choosing a piece of mirrored furniture also sends out a sign that you are aware of one of the year’s trends — the return of Art Deco, the influential style that emerged in the 1920s. 

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

Reflections: A mirrored bedside table. The power of the mirror to create an impression has been recognised for centuries

It blended forms that celebrated modern machinery with decorative elements drawn from Greco-Roman culture and nature. 

The mirror was a favourite material, used on the surfaces of furniture and walls to supply a shimmering silver and gold effect.

Probably the most famous piece of Art Deco architecture is New York’s Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, its sunburst-patterned stainless steel spire remains one of the key elements of the Manhattan skyline.

Art Deco console tables, drinks trolleys and other items from the era of the building’s construction sell for thousands on auction sites such as 1stdibs underlining the growing appeal of this aesthetic. 

Jamie Watkins, the co-founder of fabric and wallpaper company Divine Savages, explains Art Deco’s allure for a new audience.

‘Art Deco, with its bold geometrical patterns was such an iconic period for design: it’s synonymous with glamour and luxury.’

The resurgent popularity of Art Deco is also based on its practicality: a mirrored piece works with almost any interior, adding interest and depth.

The power of the mirror to create a wow impression has been recognised for centuries. 

Examples of this technique include the round mirror on the wall behind the bride and groom in Jan van Eyck’s 1434 Arnolfini Portrait in the National Gallery. It sends out the message that the couple are discerning — and wealthy.

Cheers: B&M's £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

Cheers: B&M’s £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves

The hall of mirrors in the palace of Versailles was designed to be a place of beauty, but also to display the financial resources of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Mirrors were a luxury item until an inexpensive manufacturing process was invented in the 1830s.

In 2022, it is possible to pick up mirrored pieces for under £100. B&M has a £25 oval drinks trolley with two mirrored shelves that would lend an air of Thirties elegance to any gathering. The £94.99 Ellison serving cart (a U.S. term for drinks trolley) from Wayfair has a similar vibe.

If you believe that the right mirrored trolley would save you money on trips to bars, the larger £144.95 gold oval mirrored trolley from Melody Maison could be the thing.

A mirrored cocktail cabinet will dazzle guests. The £1,200 Primrose & Plum champagne and gold cabinet has a Jazz-Age feel.

The £299 Venetian sideboard from Furniture Market, meanwhile, is a more modestly priced way to conjure up the party spirit of the Roaring Twenties.

The show flats of apartment blocks are often equipped with mirrored cocktail cabinets containing bottles of spirits and crystal glasses. This makes buyers dream of dinner parties, with a prelude of aperitifs, but also serves to make the apartment appear even roomier.

A console table in the hall also creates an illusion of space which can be amplified by the addition of a lamp. HomesDirect365 has a range in the style of almost every era including Art Deco, Regency, the 1960s and the 1970s. Prices start at £233.

The bedroom is often the most cramped room in either a house or flat which is why this can be the best place to experiment with mirrored furniture. 

The desire to preserve family harmony is another reason. The other members of your household may prefer the kitchen and living room to be slick and understated, seeing anything mirrored as excessive.

In the bedroom, however, you can indulge your decor fantasies. Habitat has the one-drawer Hepburn bedside table for £76.

Next offers the antique effect Fleur bedside table which costs £225 for the one-drawer version and £275 for the two-drawer version. 

The Fleur is also available as a six-drawer chest for £599 or a £1,150 double wardrobe if you seek to waft around your bedroom channelling your inner 1930s Hollywood screen siren. 

Dunelm’s Venetian mirrored dressing table also offers a chance to live out your dream of silver screen stardom (£449).

If mirrored furniture has brought out your party animal, kindling a passion for Art Deco in every guise, Divine Savages offers Deco Martini wallpaper whose design is based on the geometric forms, with a hidden Martini glass within the print (£150 per roll).

Some of your guests may not be too busy checking out their reflections on the doors of the mirrored cabinet to notice this subtle and witty detail in the wallpaper.

Savings of the week! water jugs… Up to 52% off 

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is half-price at £22

Sitting outside on a sunny afternoon is already delightful. But it is even more enjoyable if you are sipping on a cool drink or an iced coffee from a generously sized jug, or maybe even a Pimm’s. The arrival of the July sales means bargains abound.

If you prioritise practicality, Ocado’s textured lustre plastic picnic jug has 33 per cent off at £8.

The price of the pleasingly geometric plastic smoky-grey Prism jug from Wayfair is 16 per cent off at £10.10. 

If you would like to feel as if you are in the south of France, John Lewis has the plain glass Arles wicker-wrapped jug. It is reduced from £25 to £12, down 52 per cent.

Wanting something more elegant that you can also use for flowers? The Sandvig hammered-glass jug from made.com is also half-price at £22.

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VGP acquires French logistics development

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VGP NV and VALGO signed an agreement to purchase 32 hectares of land that housed the former Petroplus refining units in Petit-Couronne, near Rouen. This brownfield rehabilitation project is fully in line with VGP’s core expertise and strategy. Thanks to the six years ownership of the site by VALGO and its expertise in asbestos removal, soil and water table decontamination, in-situ waste treatment and development, this area has now become a suitable site for the development of new industries and business activities.

 

On the banks of the river Seine and close to the A13 highway, the 32-hectare area of land offers its future users a highly strategic location. Following the extensive depollution work carried out by VALGO, the site is now ready for redevelopment. VGP expanded into France only a few months ago and is delighted to start its French business activities in the dynamic Rouen Normandy metropolis area, via this major project. In total, around 150,000m² of land are set to be redeveloped to accommodate industrial and logistics projects, with work due to begin in 2023.

 

Jan Van Geet, CEO VGP, said: “VGP is delighted to begin its business activities in France on a site as exceptional as this one, with strong economic and environmental ambitions that are shared by both our partner, VALGO, and the local authorities. As the rehabilitation of brownfield sites is at the heart of our business, this project is a great opportunity for us to deploy our industrial and logistical know-how. The uncertain geopolitical situation and the rise in transport prices mean that companies are increasingly looking for local support to start their business. In this context, we strongly believe in the relevance of our integrated model with a long-term vision. We are now eager to get to work and bring all the expertise of the Group to the project.”

 

Francois Bouche, CEO VALGO, commented: “We are delighted that this huge piece of land has been sold to a major investor with experience in redeveloping brownfields in Europe. However, I would first like to celebrate the work of the men and women who worked so hard to make this colossal project a success. It took more than 1 million hours and over €60m in investment by VALGO to turn the page on over 80 years of refining on this site, which already employs 600 people.”

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Selling your home? Here’s how to make sure it has kerb appeal by sprucing up outside space

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As anyone who has indulged in the brutal ‘swipe left’ culture of internet dating will testify, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And the same is true when trying to sell your property.

That’s why what lies at the front of your house — be it lawn, gravel or flagstones — can play a major role in making a sale.

Indeed, having a pleasing ‘shop front’ to snag potential buyers scrolling through listings or even walking past outside can offer leverage to boost the asking price, says Colby Short, CEO of estate agent comparison site getagent.co.uk.

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

‘Homes that offer a front garden carry a 4 per cent property price premium versus those without, and that equates to more than £11,000 in the current market,’ he says.

So what changes can you make to the patch in front of your house to help improve the saleability of the property?

Some alterations are simple, entry-level innovations. For example, even the smallest swatch of grass should be mown and rubbish-free. 

In fact, bins and recycling boxes are often the first thing you see in a front garden, as well as the detritus left by squirrels who have curated bits of dinner from your bags of rubbish. But it’s easy to hide bins away in a box unit.

‘If you’re trying to hide ugly bins, how about building a bin store with a planter on the top, then you can have some gorgeous outdoor succulents and flowering alpines?’ says QVC UK’s gardening expert Michael Perry. 

You can also buy wooden bin stores from outdoor furniture suppliers such as Wayfair (from £125.99).

Meanwhile, hanging baskets outside your front door help to break up a harsh brick wall, says Sean Lade, of Easy Garden Irrigation.

‘Hanging baskets are an excellent choice for adding colour and scent to your front garden and soften the front of your house. They should be installed at eye level —about 5 ft off the ground.’

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

And think about replacing tired fencing or dilapidated brick walls with natural borders, such as Boxwood hedging, which will add visual interest and is also easy to prune throughout the year.

‘If you prefer a cottage garden appearance, then why not train climbing plants to create natural archways around your front door, porch or gate?’ says Deborah Cobb, product manager at builders’ merchants MKM.

‘Raised flower beds are also a clever way to add some natural foliage. If you fill them with evergreen shrubs, then they are an easy-to-look-after and low-maintenance option that will look good all year round.’

In terms of what plants to go for, Nicola Bird, founder of seed subscription service The Floral Project, suggests some annual flowers are perfect for planting at the front of your house if you’re looking to sell. 

‘They include varieties such as cosmos, phlox, zinnias and sweet peas — not only to bring a bright splash of colour to your front garden, but also serve as a great conversation starter with your potential buyers.’

Even if you don’t have a patch of grass in front of your home, there are other fundamentals which will help with the sale, says Jonathan Rolande, professional property buyer at housebuyfast.co.uk.

This includes jet-washing your path. And just before a visit from potential buyers, remove any vehicles, where possible, to help to create an impression of space.

‘Clean the windows, frames and front doors — and clean the house number,’ he says. ‘If the garden is mostly given over to parking, soften the look with pots and planters filled with bright flowers and attractive shrubs.’

 You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy

He adds that if you don’t have a lawn, terracotta planters on the front sills look great with fragrant plants such as lavender and rosemary appealing to the sense of smell, too.

If your front garden is really small, use decorative gravel such as pea shingle or slate chippings, suggests Thomas Goodman, property expert at homeowner and tradesman connection website myjobquote.co.uk.

‘This will give you an attractive, low-maintenance base for topping with a few nice plant pots.

‘Fix anything that’s broken, including gates, fences and walls. These detract from any nice planting and give the impression of a home that’s not properly maintained and is going to need work.’

Colby Short says some items in your garden should be permanently jettisoned to improve the chances of a sale.

‘You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy. The same goes for any large statues or display items, particularly if they are of a political, religious or risque nature.

‘When it comes to potential buyers, you want to present a blank canvas. But that doesn’t mean this canvas can’t look good and add appeal in its own right.’

On the market… with kerb appeal 

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

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